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Quote1 I'm myself again! But I'm not cured! I can feel the gamma rays like a turbulence at the center of my soul! I'm still the Hulk! Still a monster! Quote2
Bruce Banner

Appearing in "The Monster!"

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Synopsis for "The Monster!"

Coming down from the Rocky Mountains, the Hulk happens upon the town of Liberty, Colorado. He finds that area peaceful and as he walks toward the town he reverts back into Bruce Banner. Passing by a farm house, he hears a young girl scream and sees the girl being chased by a bull. Banner hops over the fence and gets the girl to safety, although the bull strikes him from behind, knocking him out. The mother of the child is grateful for the stranger's quick rescue of her child and has the man carried into her home.

Meanwhile, at the North Pole, the Silver Surfer tries to find peace and tranquility in the northern-most region of the planet to get away from the cruelty that is humanity. However, his peace is disturbed by the arrival of seal hunters who are in a clash with members of the Save the Seals Fund. When one of the animal rights activists is shot by a hunter, the Surfer is horrified that such violent ends would come from this where they could have talked out their differences. Helping the girl get to her fellow activists, the Surfer lashes out at the seal hunters, shattering their weapons with his Power Cosmic. When they try to fire a harpoon at the Silver Surfer, he uses his vast power to send their boat away. Frustrated once again by the primitive mentality of humans the Surfer once again tries to pierce the barrier put around the Earth by his former master, Galactus. As with other attempts, the Surfer finds him repelled from the very stars he so desperately wishes to reach.

Watching how other objects pass harmlessly through the barrier, including various energy forms, the Surfer suddenly recalls the gamma-spawned might of the Hulk. He then recalls his first battle against the brute and how due to the gamma rays in the Hulk's body, the angrier the man-monster got, the stronger he became, in direct geometric progression. Referring to Hulk's gamma energy empowerment, the Surfer reflects that an infusion of gamma rays can make boundless rage, such as his, result in unlimited power, explicitly admitting the Hulk's infinite potential. He decides to seek out the Hulk in the hopes of utilizing the brilliance of Bruce Banner to replicate the gamma-powered strength of the Hulk. The Surfer then scours the globe searching the Hulk, crossing paths with many members of the international superhero community along the way. Finally, the Silver Surfer detects the unique energy signature of Bruce Banner, in the town of Liberty.

Meanwhile, Bruce Banner has mostly recovered from his injuries and is helping Claire -- a recent widow -- around her farm. Banner feels at home here and has taken a liking to Claire's daughter Mary-Beth. However, Banner has noticed a strange abandoned facility off in the distance and asks what it could be. Claire explains that it is a government testing site called Tranquility Base. She goes on to say that facility was responsible for a mysterious plagued that killed her husband and others in town. A romance starts quickly budding between the two, despite Banner's fears about becoming the Hulk again. Perfectly fine with being referred to by the locals as "Claire's new beau", Banner agrees to accompany her and Mary-Beth to the local dance.

After having a good time dancing with Claire and Mary-Beth, Banner decides to take a break when he witnesses something streaking out of the sky. Banner rushes to meet it and is surprised by the arrival of the Silver Surfer. When the Surfer explains that he seeks the power of the Hulk, Banner allows a transformation into the gamma-spawned monster to fight off what he sees as a threat. After a brief battle, the Surfer uses his Power Cosmic to cure Bruce of his curse. Grateful, Banner listens to the Surfer's plight and how he needs the strength of the Hulk to shatter the barrier put in place by Galactus. Bruce agrees to help and they make plans to meet later at Tranquility Base to find a solution to the problem. Banner then returns to the dance, using the clothing from a scarecrow to try and cover up the fact that his own clothing is in tatters.

That evening while everyone else is asleep, Bruce sneaks out of Claire's home and rushes to Tranquility Base. There he discovers that the Silver Surfer has used his powers to repair the machinery here. Using his powers to probe Banner's mind, the Silver Surfer uses that knowledge to build the remaining devices that Bruce needs to complete his work. Soon, Banner is using the devices to bombard the Silver Surfer with gamma rays. The commotion from Tranquility Base wakes up the people of Liberty who fear the worst and begin making their way to the base that has caused them so much pain and anguish. Fearing that he is giving the Silver Surfer too much power, Banner tries to stop, but the gamma radiation has begun to affect the Surfer's personality. Easily enraged, the Surfer then begins to go on a rampage around Liberty.

While the Surfer tries to break the barrier in space, the locals come and find Banner at the devices of the control. A thrown pitchfork then strikes the machine and Banner ushers people out of the facility just moments before there is a gamma ray explosion. This causes Banner to transform into the Hulk again, frighting Claire away. When the Surfer returns for more power, the Hulk jumps onto his surf board and is taken up into the upper atmosphere. There the two powerhouses fight it out until the Surfer thinks to absorb the Hulk's own gamma-spawned might. This causes the Hulk to change back into Banner again and fall off the Surfer's board.

The Surfer meanwhile is able to bludgeon his way past the barrier, however he is forced to turn back when he sees Banner falling helplessly back to Earth. In order to save Banner's life, the Surfer gives the last of the gamma radiation in his body to Banner, cursing him to become the Hulk the next time he loses control. With the Surfer trapped on Earth once again, the former sentinel of the spaceways sees how he has impacted the lives of others and realised he should not have meddled in the affairs of Bruce Banner and leaves. When Banner wakes up he realises that he is once again cursed with the burden of the Hulk and laments how quickly his happiness was crushed once again.


Continuity Notes[]

  • The barrier keeping the Silver Surfer on Earth was erected by Galactus following the events of Fantastic Four #4850, when the Surfer betrayed Galactus to help the Fantastic Four in stopping his master from consuming the world. The Silver Surfer finally gets free of this barrier in Silver Surfer (Vol. 3) #1.
  • The Silver Surfer recalls his first encounter with the Hulk which happened in Tales to Astonish #9293. What he doesn't mention here is that they have fought side-by-side many times since then, particularly when they both became founding members of the Defenders in Marvel Feature #1.
  • The Silver Surfer gives an abridged recounting of the Hulk's origins as they were first depicted in Incredible Hulk #1, he learned these origins from scanning the Hulk's mind in Tales to Astonish Vol 1 93.
  • Mention is made to Tranquility Base and the strange plague that killed Claire's husband. Some facts about this:
    • This is a vague reference to Marvel Premiere #31, which featured the creation of the being called Woodgod. The people of Liberty were disturbed by potential government bioweapons and attacked the facility unleashing a bio-weapon that killed many of it's people.
    • Banner has actually been to Liberty and Tranquility Base in the past, as seen in Marvel Team-Up #5355. The reason why he does not remember is because most of his time there was spent at the Hulk. Banner seldom remembers many details during periods when the Hulk is in control of his body.
  • Bruce Banner does not recognize the Silver Surfer, this is because this is the first time that Banner and the Silver Surfer have ever met. As explained above, even though the Hulk has met the Surfer multiple times, Banner clearly doesn't recall any of these past encounters.

Continuity Errors[]

  • The North Pole is depicted as having penguins among the various other animals seen. A note from the editor points out that they were aware of the mistake but couldn't bring themselves to have the artist remove the cute animals from the two panels they appear in. Penguins are native to the South Pole.
  • The Red Guardian is depicted among the super-heroes in Russia who are seen by the Silver Surfer. What's problematic about this is two-fold: Tania is seen among the Soviet Super Soldiers, even though she had never been a member. Further, this is a problem as when she was last seen in Defenders #65 she had become a radioactive being alongside the Presence. This eventually makes them both a threat to Russia who sends the Super-Soldiers against Red Guardian and the Presence in Incredible Hulk #258.
  • Likewise, the Arabian Knight appears here with his flying carpet and magic sword. This contradicts Incredible Hulk #257 which depicts Abdul Qamar finding these mystical items for the first time, events which happen after the events of this story.

Publication Notes[]

  • Story # LF146 as shown on page 1
  • Letters page 'Green-Skin's Grab-Bag' with letters from Jeffrey Lowndes, Kevin C McConnell, Carlos M Fernandez, Tom Salzberg, John Melo, Mick Masnado, John Hayter Jr.

See Also

Recommended Reading

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